Klaus Barbie

Klaus Barbie Altmann ( Bad Godesberg , Germany , 25 of October of 1913 – Lyon , France , 25 of September of 1991 ) was a senior official of the SS and the Gestapo during the Nazi regime , who was involved in numerous war crimes and Against humanity during World War II , especially in France.

Saved from the arrest by the US secret services and the Ratlines , with whom Barbie collaborated, it later passed to Bolivia . Just as Mengele hid in Brazil and Eduard Roschmann did in Paraguay , he also chose South America , given the lack of institutional infrastructure that allowed some room for maneuver for individuals with such a background. Moreover, when the ideological alignment of South American governments with the United States in times of the ” cold war ” placed them in anti-communism, these criminals became required as collaborators, receiving great benefits from governments. In the case of Barbie that was reflected in commercial privileges on the part of the Bolivian government. Finally the variable political situation in Bolivia led in 1983 was expelled to France , where he was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment . He was accused of the death or extradition of 840 people (including 41 Jewish children who were in a Catholic center studying) and finally condemned by 341 positions. Including the death of the leader of the resistance in Vichy France Jean Moulin .


He was the son of Nikolaus Barbie and Anna Hees, both teachers, who were married a year after he was born. His father became gravely wounded in the First World War . In 1934 he graduated from Trier . Then he entered the Hitler Youth and was personal assistant to the local head of the Nazi party. Barbie was unable to attend college because the family could not afford her education after the father’s death. He then volunteered for six months at a Reich Labor Service camp, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) in Schleswig-Holstein , whence he returned fully imbued with the ideology of the Third Reich .

Nazi Germany

He enlisted in the SS (Schutzstaffel) the 26 of September of 1935 (with No. 272284) and began working in the Directorate General Security Service Sicherheitsdienst (SD) from 29 September 1935 and in The Gestapo of Berlin . On May 1, 1937, he joined the German National Socialist Workers’ Party (NSDAP), with a license number of 4,583,085, being promoted on 20 April 1940 to Untersturmfuhrer (equivalent to second lieutenant ). In 1941, during World War II , Barbie was assigned to Section IVB4 and sent to Amsterdam , and later, in May 1942 , to Lyon , France . There the nickname “won the Butcher of Lyon ” as head of the Gestapo premises. He was charged with numerous crimes, including the capture of forty-four children Jews hiding in the village of Izieu , and the torture and subsequent death of Jean Moulin , a member of the French Resistance highest ranking ever caught by the Nazis . Only in France they are attributed to their activity or that of their subordinates sending to concentration camps 7,500 people, 4,432 murders and the arrest and torture of 14,311 fighters of the Resistance . 1


After the departure of the German army from Lyon, Barbie flew to Germany and created a new life under false identity. He initially directed a cabaret in Munich and made deals on the black market. 1 Later, Barbie was protected and employed by counterintelligence services of United States Army (CIC), 2 for those who worked in Germany between 1947 and 1951, 3 4 in activities against communism. 1 That year, at the repeated French demands that he might be extradited (to what US authorities said they did not know the whereabouts of criminal-, he moved to Bolivia. 1 3 He did so through a ratline -Routes exhaust organized after World war II for war criminals Nazis and fascists could flee and avoid being prosecuted for the crimes they had committed- organized by the US secret services 5 6 and the priest Ustashi Croatian Krunoslav Draganovic , circumstantially through the Argentina . Barbie, his wife and their two children arrived in Bolivia in late 1955. 7 8 there, Barbie adopted the surname of Altman -the Rabbi of his native village and began directing a sawmill in La Paz , 3 business to which he devoted himself before trading with quinine and establish relationships with former Nazi refugees in neighboring countries 8 and the local military. During the dictatorship of General Barrientos , who came to power in 1964 after a coup, Barbie was named general manager of the state shipping company , The Bolivian Transmarine Company, created by Barrientos in 1967 with public and private capital, which acted as a cover for arms trafficking in the service of the dictatorship. Referring to Fig.

After the death of Barrientos in a helicopter accident in 1969, the fate of Barbie seemed to worsen and, after the collapse of the Transmarítima in 1971, Barbie left Bolivia and settled in Peru , where she took the surname Altmann and was linked with the Murder of businessman Luis Banchero Rossi . 8 However, there his identity was disclosed by the press, 1 9 which led to the Nazi hunter Serge and Beate Klarsfeld should give his whereabouts and began a campaign of harassment, in the style of what today is called escrache . Before the harassment, returned to Bolivia protected by the successive dictatorships of Hugo Banzer (1971-1978) and Luis Garci’a Meza Tejada (1980-1981), 8 in whose coups d’etat took part. 3 In 1974, France asked Bolivia for Barbie’s extradition, which was denied on the grounds that there was no extradition treaty between the two countries. 10 During the dictatorship of Garcia Meza, Barbie was responsible for the organization of violent paramilitary groups to serve the regime. 10 During this period, Ernesto Milà worked with him.

The privileged situation of Barbie changed in 1982, with the arrival of a democratic center-left government to the country. On January 25, 1983 the government of President Siles Suazo deported Barbie, arrested shortly before for fraud, 10 to France. 3 8 Shortly before, his wife, Regina, had died of cancer in La Paz in 1982. 8

Judgment, conviction and death

His legal proceedings began in January 1987 in Lyon . Barbie had already been sentenced to death twice in absentia during her concealment in Bolivia (in 1952 and 1954 in France 11 ), but since the war crimes that took place in Vichy France prescribed at the age of 20, only Judged by the deportations of civilian populations. 11 were three mainly: the deportation of 44 Jewish refugee children in a colony in Izieu , the roundup and subsequent deportation of more than 80 people at the headquarters of the General Union of Israeli de France in Lyon, and the so – called “last train” , In which 300 to 600 people were deported few days before the Allied troops entered Lyon. eleven

The trial was allowed to be filmed because of its high historical value, although the images of the process were not immediately disseminated. 12 Barbie denied all charges and simply declare. His defense lawyer was Jacques Vergès , who used an argument based on the thesis that Barbie’s actions were no more terrible than any colonialist in any part of the world, including the French , who were never persecuted: “What Gives the right to judge Barbie when we as a whole, as a society or as a nation, are guilty of similar crimes? ” 13 The chief prosecutor was Pierre Truche . Finally, on July 4 of that year he was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity . Four years later, when he was in prison on September 25, 1991, he died of leukemia .

In popular culture

Barbie’s life is told in the French documentary Mon meilleur ennemi directed by Kevin Macdonald .


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e File of Klaus Barbie in Jewish Traces.
  2. Back to top↑ Steve Kangas, A Timeline of CIA Atrocities in Liberalism Resurgent. 1996. http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/CIAtimeline.html [Available May 2006]
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e The documentary “My Enemy’s Enemy” describes the relationship between Klaus Barbie and USA. UU. 20 minutes
  4. Back to top↑ Ralf Wolfe (September 19, 2001). Interagency Working Group, ed. ‘Analysis of the Investigative Records Repository of Klaus Barbie’ . Consulted on May 1, 2009 .
  5. Back to top↑ Studs Terkel (1985). The Good War . Ballantine. ISBN  0345325680 .
  6. Back to top↑ About the escape of Barbie through ratlines organized by clerics of the Catholic Church, see Spiegel Online, “Ich bin gekommen, um zu töten”, by Jörg Diehl, July 2, 2007, page 1 and page 2
  7. Back to top↑ Peter Hammerschmidt: “Die Tatsache allein, daß V-43 118 SS-Hauptsturmführer war, schließt nicht aus, ihn als Quelle zu verwenden”. Der Bundesnachrichtendienst und sein Agent Klaus Barbie, in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft (ZfG), 59. Jahrgang, 4/2011. Editorial Metropol , Berlin 2011, S. 333-349. ( Download )
  8. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e f g {20011517-ac6d-4952-b82f-9d3fd483776e} Klaus Barbie in Viña , El Mercurio , February 24, 2008.
  9. Back to top↑ Discovered in Peru to Klaus Barbie in 1972
  10. ↑ Jump to:a b c Klaus Barbie arrested in France for scam , El País , January 27, 1983.
  11. ↑ Jump to:a b c The prosecutor asks for life imprisonment for Klaus Barbie , El País , July 1, 1987.
  12. Back to top↑ French TV issues the trial against the head of the Gestapo Klaus Barbie , El País , November 1, 2009.
  13. Back to top↑ The mystery of Jacques Vergès , El Pais , October 4, 2008.